If you’re among the millions who have lost their employer-provided health insurance amid the coronavirus pandemic, you may have options for affordable coverage. Take the time to assess your choices and make an informed decision so you don’t lose coverage, especially during this COVID-19 crisis when you may need health coverage.
If you have lost your job due to the coronavirus, you are likely eligible for a special enrollment period, also known as a qualifying event, such as loss of insurance coverage, marriage or birth of a baby or adoption of a child. When an individual experiences a qualifying event, they are able to sign up for health insurance outside of the traditional open enrollment period. The coronavirus pandemic has been designated as a qualifying event, but your window of time to choose a new plan is not indefinite.
When considering your choices, take the time to review the physician network, prices, benefits and financial assistance available.
A spouse or domestic partner might have job-based coverage that allows for family coverage. If you lose your job, it would likely count as a “qualifying event” that would allow you to be covered by a spouse or domestic partner’s group health plan.
If you are under 26 years old, you could also be added to your parent’s group health plan.
Due to the COVID-19 national emergency, you can still apply for health insurance coverage through Covered California, the state health insurance exchange, if you are uninsured and eligible.
Covered California is available if you are a legal resident of the United States, a resident of California, do not have access to health insurance through your workplace, a private company, a family member’s employer or a government program, such as Medicare or Medi-Cal.
Anyone who meets Covered California’s eligibility requirements, can sign up for coverage through August 31.
You may enroll for health coverage through Covered California online, by phone or in person with free assistance from a certified enroller. Visit the Covered California website or call (800) 300-1506.
If you are 65 years old or older and have lost your job that provided health insurance, you may now be eligible to enroll in Medicare.
Medi-Cal offers low-cost or free health coverage to eligible California residents with limited income. If you qualify, you are eligible to enroll any time of the year.
Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA is a federal law that may let you pay to stay on your employer’s health insurance for a limited time after your job ends (usually 18 months). You pay the full premium yourself, plus a small administrative fee. This can be an expensive option.
If you’re in the midst of a treatment plan for a health condition, COBRA might be a good option. COBRA allows you to stay on your existing insurance, so you can continue to see your doctors and maintain your coverage for any prescription drugs.
It might also be a good option for individuals who worry about the cost of starting over with a new deductible, which you’ll have to do if you get a new plan, regardless of how much of your annual deductible you’ve already paid.
To learn about your COBRA options, contact your employer.
Scripps accepts most health insurance plans, including many offered through Covered California, Medicare, or health insurance companies offering individual or family plans.
You may want to contact a licensed broker who can help you enroll in a plan. Brokers represent several health insurance companies and are able to assist you at no cost to you. Call 1-800-SCRIPPS for a referral to a broker if necessary.